MAY 13: HIDDEN HANDS STILL AT WORK

MAY 13: HIDDEN HANDS STILL AT WORK
By Dr Kua Kia Soong, Director of SUARAM, 13 May 2011

When the May 13 Incident broke out in 1969, Said Zahari wrote these lines while under ISA detention in Singapore:

“Once again
History repeats itself
By savage deeds
In a civilized age

Once again
Hidden hands appear
Seeking the blood
Of the poor and the wretched

Once again
Colour, race, religion and language
Become sharp blades
To use in the carnage

It has happened
In every corner of the earth
Where the few eat bread
And the rest sand

It has happened
Where the few clothed in velvet
Sleep in palaces
The rest go naked, squeezed into shacks

It has happened –
Then hidden hands reappear
Spilling the blood of the poor
To cling on to power…”

Said Zahari certainly did not buy the official line that the riots had broken out spontaneously. The thesis of my 2007 title May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969 was that the pogrom was orchestrated by these hidden hands to facilitate the rise of the Malay state capitalist class in UMNO and to topple the aristocratic class headed by the Tunku. This opportunity presented itself after the devastating results for the ruling coalition in the 1969 general elections.

It was not until July 1969 – a lapse of two full months – that the security forces played their expected role of restoring order. It was not as if the Malaysian security forces were inexperienced in the role of maintaining order. They had successfully contained the armed insurgency during the Emergency from 1948 to 1960 under more difficult circumstances. Allowing the riots to continue for so many weeks provided an excuse for the new UMNO ruling class to make use of the state of emergency to implement their agenda for political and economic dominance through the New Economic Policy. In this plan, they received the full backing and connivance of the police and military.

Before the publication of my book, UMNO had all along been using “May 13” as a spectre to frighten voters of another pogrom whenever a strong political opposition had arisen to challenge the ruling coalition. This was seen in various general elections such as the one in 1990 when the public broadcasting media RTM was used to purvey scenes of carnage to remind voters of the consequences.

Even the Tunku could see through the ploy. In 1988, he gave short shrift to the Government’s White Paper on Operation Lalang:

“For the Prime Minister (Dr Mahathir) to repeat (the story of) the violence of the May 13 Affair as a warning of what would have happened if the Government had not taken appropriate action immediately is like telling ghost stories to our children to prevent them from being naughty. This is not a childish matter but a matter of national importance. The tale should not be repeated because it shows us to be politically immature.” (SUARAM, “The White Paper on the October Affair and the Why? Papers”, 1989: 5)

The prelude to Operation Lalang saw the UMNO leaders orchestrating racial tension over the transfer of non-qualified administrators to Chinese primary schools. They held a rally in Kampong Baru at which then UMNO Youth Chief and present prime minister was one of the chest thumpers on stage while banners called for “Chinese blood” and “May 13”.

Since then, UMNO has unleashed its Youth group to harass any groups which question UMNO policies such as the mob assault on the East Timor Conference in 1996; the demonstration against the Chinese associations’ Suqiu appeals and threat to burn down the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in 2000, among others.

Orchestration of the UMNO- Controlled Media
The UMNO-owned and controlled press, especially Utusan Malaysia and Berita Harian have been indispensable accessories in the orchestration of communalism and racial tension to justify authoritarian measures such as was seen in Operation Lalang, 1987 and to frighten the voters into supporting the status quo.

I have monitored the way “The UMNO Media Communalises” in Media Watch: The Use and Abuse of the Malaysian Press, 1990, in order to show you how the trick is done . For example, when the Government was being criticized for the BMF scandal in the eighties, Berita Harian (19.9.86) featured the UMNO president, Dr Mahathir’s veiled threat at the UMNO general assembly: KESABARAN MELAYU ADA HADNYA (“There is a limit to the patience of the Malays”). Utusan Malaysia (19.9.86) would not be outdone: JANGAN AMBIL MUDAH ORANG MELAYU (“Don’t take Malays for granted”)

When there was widespread opposition to the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill in 1986 by all ethnic groups, Utusan Malaysia (6.12.86) chose to feature this headline quoting the UMNO Youth Chief Datuk Seri Mohd Najib: NAJIB INGATKAN ANGGOTA-ANGGOTA UMNO KEPIMPINAN MELAYU SEDANG DICABAR (“Najib alerts UMNO members Malay leadership being challenged”)

During the orchestrated “crisis” over the posting of unqualified administrators to the Chinese primary schools, the banner headline in Berita Harian (19.10.87) read: KEKAL KETUANAN MELAYU – PEMUDA (“Defend Malay dominance – UMNO Youth”)

Then when Tengku Razaleigh was leading the Opposition Front in the 1990 general elections, the editorial headline of Berita Harian (20.4.90) read: POLITIK TENGKU RAZALEIGH MERUGIKAN MELAYU (“Tengku Razaleigh’s politics – Malays lose out”)

One really needs to go further back to the Sixties to monitor how the UMNO media has deliberately communalized issues. It all gets rather tedious to even the most weathered media watcher because they carry on ad nauseum to serve the UMNO agenda for political and economic domination by playing on Malay chauvinism.

As the young generation can see with their own eyes today, the UMNO media have not stopped. The latest caper by Utusan Malaysia alleging a plot to make Christianity an official religion is probably one of the crudest yet in its arsenal of orchestrated untruths.

Yet, has any Utusan Malaysia editor been sacked by their political masters for all these deliberate attempts at stoking racial tensions? So much for Najib’s “1Malaysia” caper! And they wonder why Malaysian professionals are leaving the country…

Demands for the 13th General Elections
Calling upon UMNO and the UMNO-owned and controlled media to be more responsible is like asking a leopard to change its spots. Bumiputraism has been part and parcel of UMNO’s ideology and method for maintaining political and economic power. Demands for social responsibility and ethical standards in the media will not be heeded unless these are enshrined in new democratic institutions.

Therefore, as we mark this 42nd anniversary of May 13, we reiterate the call for:

– A Truth & Reconciliation Commission to honour those who lost their lives in 1969 and to learn the lessons of that dark episode of Malaysian history by pointing the way forward toward national reconciliation;
– An independent Press Council and Broadcasting Authority, whose members and Chair are seen to be truly independent, acceptable and respected by civil society;
– A Race Relations Act to outlaw racism, racial discrimination, hate crimes and other related intolerances and an Equal Opportunities Commission;
– Ratification of the International Convention on the Eradication of Racism, Racial Discrimination and all forms of Intolerance.

SINGAPORE TRADER ARRESTED UNDER THE ISA: RELEASE OR CHARGE HIM!

SUARA RAKYAT MALAYSIA &
GERAKAN MANSUHKAN ISA

PRESS STATEMENT: 10 MAY 2011

SINGAPORE TRADER ARRESTED UNDER THE ISA: RELEASE OR CHARGE HIM!

Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) express its protest and disappointment over the latest arrest of Abdul Majid Kunji Mohamad (60 years old) alleged suspicion of channeling funds and providing logistic support to a militant group in Southern Philippines and to be linked to the Islamic militant group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The police arrested him on the 6th of May 2011.

GMI and SUARAM strongly condemn the new arrest under the ISA. This year alone, 5 people including Abdul Majid Kunji Mohamad has been arrested under the ISA.
According to the police they have keep an eye on Abdul Majid Kunji Mohamad since he has been moved to Malaysia two years ago. We would like to know why the government invoked ISA against him now? If the police already have enough evidence against Abdul Majid Kunji Mohamad, why they never charge him in court? Seems the government and the police continuously looking for more and more labels and victims to justify the existence and usage of the ISA.
We are very concern about the condition and safety of Abdul Majid Kunji Mohamad. We urge the Government to allow the lawyers and the family to visit Abdul Majid Kunji Mohamad immediately! We also would like to invite the family of Abdul Majid Kunji Mohamad to contact GMI and SUARAM and fight for the Abdul Majid’s rights.

GMI & SUARAM views that the usage of ISA against Abdul Majid Kunji Mohamad are against the fundamental principles of human rights, justice and international human rights standards and pose and inherent danger of abuse of power particularly in terms of torture or cruel and degrading treatment of detainee.

GMI and SUARAM values that the security of the country is of utmost importance but one’s entitlement to a fair trial should not be deprived on any basis.

We strongly criticize the Government for practicing double standards on issues related to ISA. On one hand, it plans to review the ISA but on the other hand, new detention is carried out discreetly as no prior announcements were made. This incident exhibits that the ISA, is an arbitrary law and has been abused in the pretext of national security for political reasons. We urge the government to charge the said detainee in an open court; otherwise, he should be released without any delay and unconditionally.

Abolish the ISA!!!
Release all ISA detainees!!!
Close KEMTA!!!

Released by,

Nalini.E
GMI Secretariat and SUARAM Coordinator

PRESS STATEMENT: 9 May 2011 Asylum-Seekers trapped under poor human rights treatments in Malaysia

SUARA RAKYAT MALAYSIA

Address: 433A, Jalan 5/46, Gasing Indah,

46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

Telephone: +6 03 7784 3525

Fax: +6 03 7784 3526

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.suaram.net

PRESS STATEMENT: 9 May 2011
Asylum-Seekers trapped under poor human rights treatments in Malaysia

Malaysia will be housing more asylum-seekers under poor human rights treatment with the implementation of the agreement to send 800 asylum seekers (to Malaysia) who previously attempted to make their way to Australia by boats. The transfer deal announced by the Malaysian and Australian governments on 7 May, will see the 800 asylum seekers sent to Malaysia in exchange for resettlement of 1,000 registered refugees every year within four years to Australia.

This strategy undertaken by the Australian government to stop the flow of asylum seekers to its country via non-legal channels does not provide any solution to the situation of asylum seekers and refugees in Malaysia. Even though the agreement will see the resettlement of 4,000 refugees from Malaysia to Australia, the agreement falls far from “burden sharing”, as mentioned by the Australian government. Instead, this move is more of a “burden transition” from Australia to Malaysia.

Malaysia already has an appalling track record of handling asylum seekers and refugees. As a state party to the 1951 Convention relating to Status of Refugees (1951 Convention), the Australian government is showing a bad example of treatment of asylum seekers and refugees to Malaysia and other states in the region that have not ratified the 1951 Convention.

This arrangement also does not take into account the realities and limitations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Malaysia. As of today, there remain thousands of asylum seekers waiting for indefinitely for their refugee status from the UNHCR. UNHCR does not have the administrative resources to effectively provide protection for refugees, including processing asylum claims as these are responsibilities that states should undertake. If the agreement takes place without any legislature and administrative reform for the recognition of refugee status and the protection of this group, it will bring greater pressure and desperation to asylum-seekers in Malaysia.

Apart from that, SUARAM is of the view that Australia has disregarded Malaysia’s record of poor treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, and status as a non-state party to the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. This joint agreement is “illegal” as Malaysian laws do not recognize both asylum-seekers and refugees but blanket them as “undocumented immigrants” and eligible to be charged under Malaysian Immigration Act 1959/63. Based on this, the Australian government is effectively violating the international customary law of non-refoulement, which prohibits the return of people to places where they may face persecution or threats to their life or freedoms.

SUARAM is of the view that the first step to a “burden sharing” solution is for Australia to urge the Malaysian government to ratify the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol and/or at least to enact domestic laws to protect and promote the rights and security of asylum seekers and refugees. The Australian government cannot combat trafficking in persons with methods that disregard and violate the rights of asylum seekers and refugees.

About 142 are state parties to the both instruments, but Malaysia remains reluctant to accede it. This year (2011) marks the 60thanniversary of the 1951 Convention and it is the right time for Malaysia to accede the instruments.

SUARAM demands that the Malaysian government immediately accede the convention and protocol in order to improve and demonstrate its commitment in human rights issues. Ratifying and implementing the 1951 Convention will go a long way in the management of asylum seekers and refugees in the country.

Released by,

Andika Ab. Wahab

Refugee Coordinator

SUARAM

URGENT MEDIA RELEASE: 29 APRIL 2011 STOP POLICE BRUTALITY: ALLOW LEGAL ACCESS TO MUHAMAD ARIF BIN ABU SEMAH

SUARA RAKYAT MALAYSIA (SUARAM) LAWYERS FOR LIBERTY (LFL)

URGENT MEDIA RELEASE: 29 APRIL 2011

STOP POLICE BRUTALITY:
ALLOW LEGAL ACCESS TO MUHAMAD ARIF BIN ABU SEMAH

SUARAM and Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) was informed by a family member of Muhamad Arif bin Abu Semah, detained under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) since 19 March 2011 that he has been tortured badly under detention.

According to the family members and friends, Muhamad Arif has lost a lot of weight and is currently being denied access to his lawyers at the Rawang police station.

Laywer Edward Saw and Muhamad Arif’s family members went to the Rawang police station to meet him earlier today. When they arrived, the police refused to give Edward access to Muhamad Arif they had not received any instructions from IPD Gombak. Edward tried to negotiate with the police officers, but was unsuccessful. He was told to contact the officers from IPD Gombak.

Muhamad Arif’s family members only managed to spend 3 minutes each with him as the police had only allowed two family members in at a time. During one of these sessions, Fuqran, a family friend, was stopped by a plain clothes police officer, asked his identity card, had his hands restrained and was pulled him out of the room. This act shocked the family members present and the police officer disappeared without apology or explanation.

The continuing descent of the PDRM into lawlessness has been graphically demonstrated by the actions of the plain clothes officer who did not properly identify himself and acted with impunity. SUARAM and LFL condemn the brutal behaviour of the police officer and the silence of his fellow officers who did not stop or restrain him at all. This clearly illustrates the fact that the Malaysian police force is in need of an immediate and true reform.

SUARAM and LFL demands that the Inspector General of Police must:

a) Release Muhamad Arif immediately and issue a public apology to him and his family;
b) Take stern action, including criminal prosecution and disciplinary action against the policemen who assaulted and arrested Muhamad Arif and Fuqran;
c) Support the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), to function as an independent, external oversight body to investigate complaints about police personnel and to make the police accountable for their conduct;
d) Stop the unjust practice of arresting and re-arresting under preventive detention laws;
e) undertake to respect the right of the people for unimpeded and free access to lawyers at all times;
f) Require the police especially those in plainclothes to identify themselves and display their authorisation when affecting their powers;
g) Support human rights education and training programmes, with a view of changing the attitudes and methods of law enforcement personnel.

Released by,

Nalini.E
SUARAM